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@stro objects

The Whirlpool Galaxy

The @stro object for the week of 04/24/2000

image of the Whirlpool Galaxy
image courtesy of SEDS

The Whirlpool Galaxy. The Whirlpool Galaxy, cataloged as M51 and NGC 5194, was first discovered by Charles Messier on October 13th, 1773 while he was observing a comet. The smaller companion galaxy, located to the left of the larger Whirlpool in the image, was first discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1781 and has been cataloged as NGC 5195.

The Whirlpool is a large spiral galaxy like our own Milky Way galaxy. It was the first galaxy to be observed and identified to have spiral arms. Astronomers theorize that M51's spiral arms may actually be the result of gravitational interaction with its smaller companion galaxy.

The Whirlpool galaxy is one of the brightest galaxies in the night sky and is easily visible with modest telescopes in dark skies. However, it can be washed out by light-pollution and may be difficult to observe in urban skies.

Current information for the Whirlpool Galaxy (Northern Hemisphere):
Rise: 13:06
Transit: 23h 14m
Set: 09:26
Magnitude: ~8.4
Constellation: Canes Venatici
Distance: Estimates vary between 15 to 37 million light-years

For more information visit:

APOD of the Whirlpool Galaxy...

SEDS webpage on the Whirlpool Galaxy...

Whirlpool Galaxy nucleus from the HST...

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